Sunday, May 9, 2010

How Heroes are Made...and a Few Words to Mothers

When I think of stories like the one portrayed in the movie 300, it touches a nerve in me somewhere. I dare say all men, perhaps even women, would agree. It makes us men want to go to the gym and learn to handle a sword or something. I think it is because we all understand and admire the virtues of courage and intestinal fortitude. The strength to stand against whatever evil would threaten the people and freedoms we hold dear. We all like to think we would face such an adversary against whatever odds. However, I cannot fathom, especially in this day of modern warfare, standing on a field of battle, armed only with a sword, spear, shield, or other primitive weaponry to face a countless army - knowing I am all that stands in the way of almost certain destruction.

And then I read in the Bible about men who faced just such challenges with no mention or even hint of fear. Men whom no movies have ever portrayed to my knowledge and no books have glorified. These men faced even more inconceivable odds than these popularized stories and ultimately became the great heroes of their time. They are mentioned in the Bible but not often talked about or even known among Christians. Sure, we've all read of Sampson who was given supernatural strength as one of the great judges of Israel. This was before the time of Saul and the Kings of Jerusalem. And who has not read or heard the story of David, a young shepherd boy who defeated the giant Philistine, Goliath with a sling, a stone, and the ultimate weapon: God's hand of favor?

But then we read of David's Mighty Men in 2 Samuel Chapter 23, whose exploits made them the heroes of old among the Israelites. They were the great warriors among the great. How fearless they must have been and how unfathomable the victories that God, no less, delivered into their hands against evil men according to His great mercy on Israel. Josheb-Basshebeth raised his spear (a spear...seriously??) against 800 men in a single encounter and killed them all. What about Eleazar son of Dodai who stood his ground against an entire Philistine army while his own army retreated in fear. He single handedly defeated the Philistines that day, striking men down until his hands were so tired the sword was as if frozen to his hand. The troops returned, but only to strip the dead. Then Shammah son of Agee, stood in the middle of a field, again while his army retreated from the Philistines and the Bible simply says, "He defended it and struck the Philistines down, and the LORD brought about a great victory." Abishai son of Zeruiah, who became chief of the other three, raised his spear (I'd like to see one of those spears) against three hundred men and was victorious. There are others you can read of in this passage, but I think you get my point. I can't imagine trying to fight two men at once, much less hundreds.

As I read these accounts and think about stories of victory in the face of tyranny and evil, it is easy to forget who the true deliverer is and how heroes are made. Heroes come in all shapes and sizes. They are not all great warriors, they do not possess great wealth or power, and the paparazzi do not stalk them. Heroes are people of strong faith and great courage. They stand when others would run. They fight, when others would fall. They are loyal where others betray and they have no fear because they do not stand alone, but alongside something much greater than themselves. This is how a hero is made. When Paul wrote to the Romans he penned this: "If God is for us, who can be against us?"

Today is Mother's Day and I know this is a funny way to parlay into paying my deep respects, but how can we deny the fact that mothers are often the unsung heroes of our day? So many women have been looked down upon for carrying out such fundamental duties of raising their own children, caring for their home, and being committed to their husbands. This is no easy task. It requires great personal sacrifice and a love beyond measure. It is a sad time we live in, that such a noble calling would be looked down upon. How twisted our priorities become when we convince ourselves that an improved standard of living would be of greater worth to our children than the time and love we could have otherwise afforded them. By comparison, such sacrifice has paid greater dividends in the making of great men and women, than any other gift we could give. Let's not forget the love of our mothers today and show them a sincere thanks for the debts we can never repay. To all you mothers out there, you have my greatest respect. My life is one example, of many, to the great patience and love only a mother could have.

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